Book details a look at the city’s past

Lewis Carlson didn’t envision himself writing a history book on Lakeway.

After all, the retired college professor and author and editor of multiple other books is almost 30 years older than the city itself and is not a lifelong Lakeway resident. But with a little persistence from the chair of the Lakeway Heritage Commission, Carlson, who moved from Michigan to Lakeway in 2001, accepted the challenge of writing a history book on a city he did not know much about at the time.

“I finally had to face that I would have to figure out what Lakeway was all about,” he said.

Carlson said he was most fascinated by the 100 years before Lakeway became a city in 1963. The two groups of people who populated the area during that time—German-Americans and Anglo-Americans—brought different skill sets to the area, Carlson said.

The German-Americans came with a love of learning, art and music, while the lower-class Anglo-Americans brought a strong work ethic. The Anglo-Americans were particularly drawn to the fine strain of cotton growing in the area, Carlson said.

“They were hoping this would be like paradise,” he said.

“Lakeway: A Hill Country Community” goes on to detail how Lakeway became an official city, its formative years and the organizations that helped it grow, and includes more than 100 photographs and paintings.

Disputes in Lakeway

Carlson said there were several significant disputes that helped shape modern-day Lakeway. Luckily, the good guys won the battles, he added.

One significant dispute was about what should be done with the Hamilton Greenbelt donated to the city by Jack and Myrtle Hamilton. Some residents argued that opening the greenbelt for public use would result in hippies, drug use and nudity, while others thought it would improve the area, Carlson said.

The first phase of the Hamilton Greenbelt opened to the public in 1990.

“It ended up being a marvelous gift to the community,” Carlson said.

A second dispute came in 1991 over what do with City Park. Developers wanted to put big condos on the land, while some community members argued it was the last piece of land on Lake Travis that could be used for public purposes.

The vote for the city to purchase the land and turn it into a park passed by only 19 votes.

“Now you can’t find anyone who says they voted against it,” Carlson laughed.

Carlson, who has written, co-written or edited 14 books, said he came to appreciate the multiplicity of talents in Lakeway during the four years he worked on the history book. He said he promised his wife that “Lakeway: A Hill Country Community” would be his last book.

“Lakeway: A Hill Country Community” is available for purchase at the Lakeway Activity Center, Lakeway City Hall, Points of Origin and, soon, Barnes & Noble.


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